Obesity and Mental Health

Obesity and Mental Health

Definition: The NHS defines obesity as a BMI (Body mass index) score of 30-39.9 as obese. BMI is calculated by utilising information about your height, weight, sex, and age.

As we are all aware, obesity is an overwhelming problem in the UK (and USA). Statistics show that 1 in 4 adults are obese or morbidly obese. However, it doesn’t stop there, surprisingly 1 in every child aged 10 – 11 years is also classified as obese. These statistics are overwhelmingly worrying, obesity can cause many other physical health conditions, likewise it can go hand-in-hand with mental health problems. 

In last month’s edition of Student Life I wrote an article on comorbidities which highlighted the lack of recognition for the relation between physical health and mental health problems. It is therefore reassuring to know that when researching obesity on the net, results show an inclusion of mental health obesity related problems. 

  • Feeling very tired

  • Low confidence levels

  • Low self-esteem 

  • Feeling Isolated 

All of the above are highlighted contributing factors which can lead to depression. Of course, we are able to experience these without the development of depression, however it has been found that obesity does lead to depression. The psychological problems associated with obesity can affect relationships with family members, partners, and friends. The associated physical health problems can also affect a person’s mental health, some physical health related problems can be very serious which can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and extra stress. 

So, how do we ‘solve’ this?

Being realistic, there is no magic cure. Losing weight takes time, dedication, and determination. Healthcare professionals should be equipped with information to help encourage and support weight loss. The NHS has a weight loss program called ‘couch to 5k’ which offers guidance on a week to week basis on how to start exercising. The program lasts 9 weeks, and each week involves 3 runs. All details are available on the NHS website. 


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